Driver SOS (UK)
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Driving vehicle without permission
There may a time when you need to borrow a friend or family members’ car for an errand or to pop into the nearby shops. If you do not inform the owner of the vehicle that you are borrowing the vehicle, it unfortunately counts as theft. There are hundreds cars a year that are reported as stolen but have been borrowed by a family member or friend; you'll be surprised how common this is.
If you so have to drive someone else’s car, then make sure you ask their permission first. If you have fully comprehensive insurance, then you may be covered to drive another person's car with permission from the owner but you need to check your insurance policy documents to make sure that you are allowed to do so. Remember that when driving other cars, you are only covered on a third party basis only, so if you were to be involved in an accident in someone else's car, you might have to fork out money from your own pocket for repairs to the car you've been driving.
There have been cases of teenagers or younger family members taking cars at night without permission. In some cases they get caught by speed cameras or stopped by police. If you can prove that you were not driving the vehicle at the time, then you won’t be fined nor have penalty points endorsed on your licence. You might even be lucky enough to have the offender caught on camera as proof that you were not in the drivers’ seat at the time of the offence.
If the car is on finance, then there is a big chance that the small print states that no one else other than yourself can drive the vehicle and if you are caught letting someone else drive it they can take it back. At the end of the day, it’s not your vehicle and the finance company own it (until you've cleared the outstanding finance) and they might repossess the car. Some might be able to come to a compromise but you might have to pay more than the car's actual value so always read the small print.
The majority of the time your vehicle will have been taken by someone you know whether it’s your family or friend but unless you given them permission to drive it, you can report them to the police. Many people find themselves in the dilemma of whether to report someone close or take the actual blame for an offence. Protecting loved ones is in human nature but sometimes the consequences can be devasting such as higher insurance premiums, huge fines and also prison sentence. So think well before you get more than you bargained for.